U.S. Senate Health Committee Adopts Merkley-Brown Amendment on Tobacco Candy..

May 20, 2009 - The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) today approved an amendment from Senators Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Sherrod Brown of Ohio focused on nefarious (wicked in the extreme) new products – tobacco candy. The amendment was approved as part of new landmark legislation to allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco.

Tobacco candies are smokeless, dissolvable tobacco products. One variety, called “Camel Orbs”, is currently being test-marketing by RJ Reynolds in three cities, including Portland, Oregon, and Columbus, Ohio (also Indianapolis, Indiana. The Orbs come in two flavors - “mellow” and “fresh” – and are sold in containers designed to resemble cell phones. From a distance, the packaging and design of the individual Orbs are virtually indistinguishable from breath mints. Senator Merkley: criticized "dissolvable tobacco," a sweet-tasting melt-in-your-mouth lozenge that contains nicotine [milled tobacco]. A type called Camel "Orbs," sold in packages shaped like cell phones, is being test marketed in his state. Camel Orbs and Camel No. 9's are products of R.J. Reynolds of Winston-Sale, NC.

Senator Sherrod-Brown put up a chart showing the sleek pink-and-black packaging of Camel No. 9's , a cigarette stamped with a pink camel. The cigarette was handed out free at bars around N.C. State University when it was launched two years ago and was advertised in magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Glamour.

The Merkley-Brown amendment would require the new Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee to immediately study the public health effects of tobacco candy and report to the Food and Drug Administration on its findings. The Committee’s recommendations will provide the FDA with all the information it needs to act promptly on the question of the public health impact of these tobacco candy products, particularly as those risks pertain to children, and take steps to prevent these products from being widely marketed and sold.

As pointed out by the ranking Republican on the Committee, Wyoming Senator Michael Enzi, we need to fight the issue head on. Ban the use of all flavored dissolvable tobacco products such as the candy flavored tobacco lozenges, flavored tobacco toothpicks and the flavored tobacco filled edible film strips.

Statement of Edward M. Kennedy in support of the FDA regulation of tobacco products..

The HELP Committee is expected to conclude work on the "Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act" in the next few days.

Reference: Senate Health Committee Adopts Merkley-Brown Amendment on Tobacco Candy, Jeff Merkley Oregon Senator, 5/19/2009, Burr and Hagan join hands to keep FDA's grip off tobacco by Barbara Barrett, The News &Observer, 5/20/2009.

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